Scripture: ‘Pharaoh turned and went into his house, and he did not take even this to heart.’ Exodus 7:23
Observation: People such as Pharaoh, who have hardened their hearts toward God, will not even acknowledge the work of God in any way. We forget what it is like to have a heart that is hard toward God and what is required to break through to reach that person’s heart.
Application: We must demonstrate and speak often of the love of God and the effect that he can have on a persons’ life. All the while, praying that God would soften the hard of the person toward him.
Prayer: Father God I pray for those who have hard hearts toward you and that you would begin to soften them by showing people your love and your mercy. Amen
Scripture: ‘Moses spoke thus to the people of Israel, but they did not listen to Moses, because of their broken spirit and harsh slavery.’ Exodus 6:9
Observation: For the people of God held captive in Egypt is was difficult to believe that God was going to rescue them because they had witnessed no evidence or proof to convince them of what Moses & Aaron where telling them. Proof from many people is what often prevents them from making a decision to believe in God and in this instance it created a huge barrier in Moses & Aaron establishing credibility with the people.
Application: For people who are far from God having proof in their mind that God is real and that he cares for them is a true barrier for belief and we must do what we can to help eliminate that barrier so that they can begin to know and trust that God has a plan for their life.
Prayer: Father, I pray today for those who are far from God and are searching for answers and questioning whether to place their faith and trust in you but for whatever reason they are hesitant because life circumstances are preventing them from trusting you completely. I pray that you would revel yourself to be true in their life and that people would place their whole trust in you. Amen.
Scripture: ‘During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel—and God knew’ Exodus 2:23-25
Observation: It is very interesting to read this words because we are left to ask, ‘does God really forget things and need to be reminded?’ The short answer is that God does not forget he simply sees that the time is right to fulfill his promise. Those that have cause to not believe in God could look at this and say of God, ‘he let them suffer in slavery until he was ready to let them up’ but the reality is that God did not want his people to suffer at all but needed to wait for the appointed time to arrive and for the appointed messenger to be born.
Application: We all want things to happen on our timetable as opposed to God’s. Being patient with God and allowing his plan to unfold according to his timetable can be extremely frustrating to experience but the blessing that we often experience as a result of being patient and waiting on God refines our character in the process which makes for a better result on the other side.
Prayer: Father, help us to be patient and wait on your time and your will to be revealed in our lives. I pray for those who are waiting on you and that you would not terry any longer than is needed and that you would grant an extra measure of grace and patient to those who are waiting for you to fulfill your promises in their lives as that time can be extremely long and hard to bear. Show them your love and mercy father! Amen.
Scripture: Exodus 1:17; 20
Observation: We read in this section of the book of Exodus that the people of Israel where increasing in population very rapidly while in Egypt and the Egyptians took steps to guard themselves by in-slaving the people and asking the midwives (who assisted in the delivery of babies) to kill the male children of the Hebrews. But, the story says that the ‘midwives feared God’ and did obey their master’s but instead let the male children live. The story goes on to say that God ‘dealt well’ with these women and allowed them to also have children.
Application: The decision to ‘honor God’ and ‘not follow’ the laws of men was a very brave choice that these women made as it involved great risk to themselves and their lives. We are faced with similar choices in many occasions in our lives. The easy answer is that we follow God no matter the cost to us but when the time comes to make that choice will be remain true to that decision? If we are faithful in following God then he (God) will be faithful in rewarding us.
Prayer: Father God, help me and others to make the difficult decision to follow you and make choices that are in line with your will and character even when they are in opposition to the will of man. And finally help us not to make these choices not because of what we will receive back from you but because of who you are! Amen.
Scripture: ‘I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another.’ Romans 15:14
Observation: Such encouraging words where written by Paul of the Roman church that I can only hope to write such words of the people that I currently serve at Parkway. As a fellow Pastor I can relate to Paul as he reflects upon the time and energy that he has poured into these men and women and now looks upon them with a sense of pride and of doing his part to train and instruct them. This process of discipleship and leadership development of others is crucial for raising up the next generation of leaders.
Application: Leadership must be passed on to others and my role as a leader and pastor is to raise up and train other leaders and pastors. So that I too can look upon my brothers and sisters with satisfaction and a sense of pride.
Prayer: Father, help me and the rest of our pastors and leaders both here at Parkway Fellowship and at churches throughout this world to be spurned on to have a heart for leadership development and discipleship. We know that our time here is limited so we must pass on what we have learned by training others. And let us not do this because of any benefit to us but may it all be for your Glory and the advancement of your church. Amen.
Scripture: “So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.” Romans 14:12-13
Observation: Looking as these two verses together we really get the full sense of what Paul is asking of us. We will be asked to give an account of our lives to God so because of this we must not pass judgement on others or place in their way anything that will cause them to stumble. The interesting part is that the judgement falls not on the one who stumbles (although from other passages we know that we are accountable for our actions) but upon the believer who causes others to stumble. This is part of the teaching of loving your neighbor more than you love yourself because if you truly love others then you will go out of your way to ensure that they do not fall into temptation and you do not pass judgment on them when they do because the blame rests on your actions.
Application: I am responsible for my own behavior and actions and I will be held accountable for them. The “satan made me do it’ excuse or any other combination of casting the blame on someone else does not work. I must take responsibility for my actions and the effect that it has on others.
Prayer: Father, remind us that our behavior can affect other and let us strive as Paul later writes, ‘let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding’. Amen
Scripture: “Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.” Romans 13:7
Observation: Paying taxes and our debts is somewhat easy to do but giving respect and honor to others has becoming sorely lacking in our time. Having just left behind the politically charged election season, I witnessed first-hand what happens when believers fail to show honor and respect for their leaders. It’s as if we fail to read what Paul is saying which is that you may not agree or even like your political leaders but you will honor and respect them! This has implications for us on many levels and in our age of ‘social media’ and ‘just saying’ culture this means that we resist the urge to post the latest zinger or funny about the guys in Washington.
Application: Where the rubber meets the road for us as believers is that we need to remember that these leaders ‘have been instituted by God’; meaning his hand was upon them and it was his will that they placed into the positions that they now occupy. As verse two of this chapter says, ‘Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment…’
Prayer: Father, help me to remember to respect my leaders and to show them the respect and honor that they deserve because to do otherwise is to incur your judgement upon me. Amen
Scripture: ‘…Outdo one another in showing honor.’ Romans 12:10
Observation: We live in a time of ‘one upping’ others; somebody we know buys a new car, we buy a newer more expensive car and the list goes on and on. What we do not often see is the idea of ‘one upping’ others in showing honor.
We seem to give in a culture and a time of mocking and dishonor for others, for our elders, for our leaders, and for society as a whole. For Paul’s emphasis here he is seeming to say that we believers need to lead the way in this area.
Application: In this area, believers need to go out of their way to be the ones who are showing respect for those whom we are called to honor in our lives.
Prayer: Father, help me and other believers to take an extra step this week in finding way to honor and respect our elders, our leaders, and any one to whom honor and respect is due.
Scripture: ‘All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people.” Romans 10:21
Observation: In my mind I picture a mother who stands with her arms wide open as if to receive a hug from a child but that child has not the time or desire to go and hug their own mother but would rather continue in whatever pursuit they are involved in. God in the same way stands with open arms waiting for us to run into his arms but we are disobedient or too caught up in our own lives to have a relationship with God.
Application: After spending the previous part of this chapter celebrating the fact the through Jesus all people can come to know God and experience salvation, Paul ends this chapter with a sobering reminder that although salvation is now possible through Jesus not everyone will take advantage of it and God will be left standing with arms open wide to receive us and we will continue to run away and resist him.
Prayer: Father, thank you for the salvation that I have received in Jesus and may I never take for granted the love and acceptance of God who stands ready and willing to accept anyone who would surround their lives to him.
Scripture: “But it is not as though the word of God has failed…” Romans 9:6
Observation: Many people are quick to blame God when they perceive that something happened that he (God) could have prevented. It is like they are saying ‘God, your word failed to convince them to believe in you’! The caveat is two-fold in this scenario: first God is sovereign and through this section of teaching Paul is making this point that God can choose to save whom he wants. Second, to be saved one must demonstrate faith and belief in God and not rely on their works to save them.
Application: The application from this is two-fold: first, know that God is sovereign and his plan is being worked out in his mind and heart apart from our understanding or acceptance of that plan. Second, we must response with faith to the word and plans of God knowing and trusting that his plan is greater than our limited knowledge of that situation.
Prayer: Father, help me to place my complete trust in your sovereign plan for my life and for our world and to believe with faith and not doubt when trouble or resistance comes. Amen.